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Father’s Day by The Book

I’ve always been a big fan of giving books as gifts because I personally enjoy reading, and I believe more people should be reading actual physical books. Usually, when browsing books for gift-giving, I lean towards novels or biographies. However, for Father’s Day this year, I may just mosey over to the “self-help” & “manuals/guides” section of the bookstore. (Full disclosure, this browsing is all happening on Amazon, I wish right now more than ever I was leisurely exploring an actual brick n’ mortar bookshop.) For the Dads on my gift list, I’m hoping to not only gift them a good book worth reading, but also one that can help them with the challenges of being a Dad, of which there are many in this day and age. Here’s a breakdown of potential books for fathers based on experience.

First-Time Fathers & Fathers-To-Be. When our daughter was first born, my husband and I utilized various parenting books. Tomes like “The No-Cry Sleep Solution” by Elizabeth Pantley and “Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems” by Richard Ferber to address the practical needs and challenges of newborns. For those new to the role of Dad, a manual-like book is an excellent present even if they no longer have the time to sit down for a good read. Just having it on hand as a resource can be a blessing. My husband and I didn’t read either of the two books mentioned above; however, we did skim them for the general gist and ended up successfully sleep-training our firstborn. Another great book to have on hand for the first-time dad is “What to Expect the First Year” by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel. This really is a beneficial reference book, with an index and practical advice.

Fathers in the Trenches. Now with two girls, ages 2 and 4 ½, my husband and I consider ourselves in the parenting trenches. Everyone’s basic needs are met, but these toddler and pre-school years can be challenging in terms of discipline and personal development. I have two books in my virtual cart ready to ship to gift my husband, “The Whole-Brain Child” by Daniel Siegel, and “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk” by Adele Faber. I checked out “The Whole-Brain Child” from the library and found it very insightful, as it’s based on neuroscience, explaining how a child’s brain develops and what you can do to strengthen the synapses between the left and the right brain. And since “not listening” is the number one reason our four-year-old gets sent to timeout, I have high hopes for book #2.

Fatherhood—the Fun Years. I’m assuming that the ages of 5 through 10 are prime parenting years. Children in this age range can wipe their own butts and play out in the yard mostly on their own. You can share hobbies and more interesting activities with them, but they are still manageable. Again, I’m assuming, talk to me in a few years. But, from what I’ve seen with my friends who are Dads to school-age children, they seem to be having a lot of fun. So, for the father of kids who still believe in Santa Claus and can now appreciate “Star Wars,” check out Jim Gaffigan’s “Dad Is Fat.” This isn’t a manual so much as a good laugh from the comedian who legendarily riffs on Hot Pockets, manatees, and all of the joys and horrors of life with five young children. Dads can read this, chuckle, and think “better you than me, man.”

Fathering Teens. Having two girls, I am not looking forward to the teenage years; my husband even less so. If you have a Dad of teen girls on your gift list this Father’s Day, I recommend “Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood” by Dr. Lisa Damour. This book emphasizes laying down rules and explaining the context of the rules. Thinking back on my own teenage experience, there wasn’t a lot of discussion about expectations and rules, just that we had to follow them or else. So, this book sounds really appealing for those of us who are fans of talking through problems. Speaking of talking, whether you have boys or girls, I also recommend “How to Talk So Teens Will Listen and Listen So Teens Will Talk” also by Adele Faber. This book is meant to be read with your teen, with talking points for discussions. Think of it as a family book club!

The Empty Nest Dad. I imagine there are many nuanced emotional shifts as your children age out of your home and set to go out to make their own way in life. And the books I’ve been browsing that address “empty nest syndrome” are mostly geared toward mothers. However, for Father’s Day, you can’t go wrong with a classic like “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Empty Nesters.” This edition contains 101 stories written by parents sharing their experiences of saying goodbye to their kids living at home and looking ahead to the next chapter in life. I also recommend “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhoof” from the ultimate father himself, Fred Rogers. This special edition of the classic advice book previously published as “You are Special” includes the article by Tom Junod that inspired the recent film starring Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers.

Grandpa! For the Dads who have done the work and are now lapping in the glow of beloved grandchildren, just get them a biography of some historical general. You can go the obvious route like Ulysses Grant or Patton, but if you want to go on a deep dive, may I suggest

“The Life of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry” vol 1. Yes, there are two volumes, so save the second for Pappy’s birthday or next Christmas, whichever comes first.

Happy Father’s Day!

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